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Education Lab Blog

Education Lab is a yearlong project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

July 29, 2014 at 12:41 PM

Round-up: Banda’s departure raises questions, most Corinthian students still stuck with debt

Banda’s departure raises questions about fractious school board: José Banda is Seattle’s fifth schools chief in a decade, and his departure to Sacramento has left some concerned about the relationship between the superintendent and board members. Former Marysville Superintendent Larry Nyland will serve as interim superintendent for a year starting Aug. 1.

Corinthian students still stuck with student-loan debt (Bloomberg): For-profit Corinthian Colleges is closing campuses across the country — including a handful in Western Washington operating under the name Everest — but most students will still have to repay their student debt. Under federal law, students must pay back their loans unless they attended a shuttered school within 120 days prior to its closing.

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July 29, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Preschool for all kids? Business leaders get campaign preview

Anh Tuan Ta, 4, second from right, and Jimwel Pelaez, 3, far right, lay out plans before they construct their "spiky space needle" during an open-ended activity session at the Denise Louie Education Center in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Seattle. Photo by Marcus Yam / The Seattle Times.

Children participate in an open-ended activity session at the Denise Louie Education Center in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Seattle. Photo by Marcus Yam / The Seattle Times.

In a preview of what’s to come this fall, three high-level speakers debated Seattle’s proposal to pay for universal preschool in front of a roomful of business leaders.

Voters will weigh in Nov. 4 on whether to fund a four-year pilot providing high-quality pre-K education to 2,000 4-year-olds. Total cost: $58 million, to be paid through property-tax increases.

The effort would align Seattle with numerous cities and states funding early-learning initiatives, from San Francisco to Florida. All are responding to compelling evidence about the benefits of preschool for young children. But many are also wrestling with significant questions about the staying power of those gains.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: early ed, pre-K, preschool

July 28, 2014 at 11:45 AM

Round-up: Assessing the need for a WSU med school, class-size initiative makes ballot

Assessing the need for a WSU med school: Some local and regional higher education experts are questioning whether there is enough demand to warrant a second medical school in Washington state. WSU wants to open a school in Spokane, but some say the shortage of hospital residency spots is a more pressing issue.

Class-size initiative will appear on November ballot (AP): A state initiative that would require smaller class sizes at all levels will appear on the general-election ballot this fall. A similar measure was passed in 2000, but the Legislature has suspended it several times because of budget concerns.

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July 28, 2014 at 9:03 AM

More for your money: UW-Bothell ranked best in the state

The UW Bothell campus. Photo by Jim Bates / The Seattle Times 2008.

The UW Bothell campus. Photo by Jim Bates / The Seattle Times 2008.

A new national ranking of college quality scrambles the usual rating of Washington state’s colleges and universities, making the University of Washington-Bothell the top-rated school in the state.

The ranking, by Money magazine, aims to tell students and parents which schools give the best value for the money, and looked at metrics such as the quality of the education, affordability and outcomes, which were based in part on how much graduates were making five years after they left school.

The UW-Bothell ranked above the main campus because it “dramatically outperforms its peers on graduation rates and alumni financial success indicators,” the magazine writes. Although UW-Bothell isn’t particularly selective, more than two-thirds of freshmen go on to graduate, and earn salaries averaging about $52,000 within five years of graduating.

In the survey, UW-Bothell came in 37th in the nation overall, earning an A- for value. The main UW campus in Seattle ranked 47th in the nation, getting a B+ for quality. The Seattle campus appeared to rank slightly lower than the UW-Bothell because the average annual salary within five years was slightly lower ($49,300) and the school is more selective.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: higher ed, rankings, UW

July 28, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Free textbooks: New website helps profs find best e-books and videos

The OPEN Washington website

The OPEN Washington website

Building on several years of work with free textbook development, the state’s community college board has created a website that highlights the best available free- and low-cost textbooks and other educational resources from around the country.

The website is called OPEN Washington, and its aim is to help professors and college instructors find free or low-cost online textbooks, videos, curricula and other resources from a wide variety of sources.

It was created by the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC).

Along with everything else in higher education, textbooks have zoomed in price in recent years; some studies suggest that the average college student spends as much as $800 to $1,000 per academic year buying textbooks. And students are often stuck with books that they can’t sell back to the bookstore because versions change from year to year.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: e-textbooks, higher ed, textbooks

July 25, 2014 at 1:13 PM

Round-up: Seattle students talk about school stereotypes, Texas college moves into old J.C. Penney

Rainier Beach, University Prep students discuss stereotypes (KUOW): Two students from south Seattle’s public Rainier Beach High School and north Seattle’s private University Prep took to KUOW’s RadioActive youth program to talk about stereotypes and interview their peers about what it’s like to attend each school. For more on what Rainier Beach is doing to defy stereotypes of the school, check out this guest opinion column by teacher Colin Pierce.

Austin Community College settles into former J.C. Penney store (KUT): A community college in Texas has found an unlikely building for its next campus: a former J.C. Penney department store. Students say they like that the revamped building offers ample room for informal study groups.

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July 25, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Teacher quality and test scores: Recent studies raise questions

As we reported earlier this week, the standoff continues between our state and the feds over the use of student test scores in teacher evaluations.

The U.S. Department of Education continues to insist that test scores should play some role in teacher evaluations. Washington lawmakers have refused to require school districts to do so and, as a result, lost the state’s waiver from the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

This week, the feds refused Washington’s request to get back a piece of that waiver — the part that would have saved schools from having to send letters home saying they have failed — as most other schools in the nation have failed — to ensure that all students were proficient in reading and math this year.

So what about the substance of the argument? Are test scores a valid indicator of a teacher’s effectiveness?

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July 24, 2014 at 3:33 PM

Guest: Teachers need more than one formula for student success

Andrew E. Kelly

Andrew E. Kelly

The battle around “what works” in education continues to rage nationally and in our great state. What is the best way to ensure that each of our kids, regardless of ethnicity, socioeconomic status and personal background are able to successfully meet our educational standards and move through elementary, middle and high school to graduate prepared for college and a career?

One argument centers on whether schools should use direct instruction, a teacher-centered approach that commonly uses call-and-response, or a more free-flowing structure where students talk out their thinking and make sense of what they already know to build the scaffolding for their future.

Yet, as I work to support our state’s lowest-performing schools through the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, I see more similarities than differences when it comes to what goes on in the classroom. Across the state, schools are succeeding with kids using both explicit instruction and constructivist learning. The bottom line: Great teaching is great teaching

Lakeridge Elementary School within the Renton School District is one school in our state experiencing phenomenal results. After receiving a federal school improvement grant three years ago, Lakeridge has taken on a new approach that emphasizes not just teaching content but, just as importantly, teaching kids how to think.

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Comments | More in Guest opinion, Opinion | Topics: Andy Kelly, direct instruction, Lakeridge

July 24, 2014 at 12:01 PM

Round-up: Tacoma district eyes downtown building, Sequim grapples with transgender policies

Tacoma district considers buying downtown building for school (The News Tribune): Seattle isn’t the only local school district contemplating major real estate acquisitions. The Tacoma School Board plans to vote Friday on whether to pay $7.6 million for a downtown building and parking garage that would allow for an expansion of the popular Tacoma School of the Arts.

Judge rules against public disclosure of LA teacher performance (Los Angeles Times): Three California appellate judges have ruled the public does not have a right to know the names of teachers in relation to their job performance ratings. The decision overturns an earlier ruling ordering disclosure.

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July 24, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Uncool in middle school? That might be a good thing

Remember the cool kids in middle school? The ones classmates admired and longed to befriend? The ones whose rejections sent many of us into a funk?

If you’re still not over it, take heart. Turns out, as adults, the popular kids tend to slip to the other end of the social spectrum.

In a study published in Child Development, researchers from the University of Virginia found that by the time they reach their early 20s, many popular seventh-and eighth-graders are often viewed as socially inept.

The researchers tracked 184 students from 13 to 23. As young teens, they were all in the popular crowd, judged by interviews with peers and the students themselves.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: Child Development, middle school, popularity

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